Even if you intend to have compassion for someone difficult, you may feel blocked.
By Bert and John Jacobs
Without realizing it, your mind may be dehumanizing that person. Studies suggest it is easier to empathize with someone if you have something in common with that person. That helps you see a person as human. One study out of Princeton discovered a clever way to humanize someone.
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Researchers found that when participants imagined a person enjoying a particular vegetable, they were able to recognize that person as human. I invite you to try this with someone who creates tension or frustration in your life. Imagine sharing asparagus or sweet corn with your least favorite political figure, and see if anything shifts.
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Consider meditation to be like brain training. Just like an Olympic athlete may use visualization techniques to improve his or her performance, you can use meditation to improve your empathy breadth. Try this loving-kindness meditation by Steven Hickman, PhD, and see how it affects your ability to empathize with others. As I mentioned earlier, compassion is not easy. You may have a difficult time exercising your compassion muscle for certain people, and that is totally normal.
Try not to beat yourself up about it, and give yourself a pat on the back for having compassionate intentions. We often forget to tend to our own suffering, so be sure you include yourself in your circle of compassion.
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Looking to increase compassion for yourself and others? Search form Search. By Sara Schairer. Imagine Whirled Peas When polarizing people inundate your news and social feeds, compassion may be the last thing on your mind. Try a Loving-kindness Meditation Consider meditation to be like brain training.
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Share This Article. Most of us have experienced self-blame—at work, in relationships, or simply because we have habitually kept ourselves in cycles of perfectionism. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.
The world needs more of these. As a small, dedicated non-profit, Mindful brings compassion and connection into the hearts, homes, and communities of millions of our readers.
If you find value and meaning in what we do and would like to help make the world more mindful, please subscribe to Mindful today. Thank you! Read More. Research reveals why we struggle to apologize. Sharon Salzberg is a meditation teacher and New York Times best-selling author. She is the co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and has played a crucial role in bringing Asian meditation practices to the West. Sharon has been a student of meditation since , guiding retreats worldwide since She is a weekly columnist for On Being , a regular contributor to The Huffington Post and the author of many books including Real Happiness , and Lovingkindness.
A Forgiveness Meditation Meditating on forgiveness is not terribly different from a loving-kindness practice, as both invite us to be with our emotional states without judging them and to use the meditation as the anchor of our attention. Traditionally, the meditation is done in three parts: first, you ask forgiveness from those you have harmed; next, you extend forgiveness to those who have harmed you; and the final practice is that of self-forgiveness, for all of those times we harm ourselves with judgmental habits of mind. About the author. Comments Comments.